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Our ways to help employees with children

By: Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR, MetLife UK

With many UK employees wearing increasingly varied hats outside of work- from parenting to caring or volunteering-it is important that employers understand the, often round-the-clock, challenges facing their workforces.
As workplace restrictions start to ease and school holidays end, the weekly routine will be back in full swing with many seeking a work-life balance once again. To help Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR at MetLife UK shares 4 ideas for employers to consider helping employees with the return to the office.

1. Offer flexible working hours – Flexible working allows parents the chance to create a more tailored, ideally productive, schedule enabling the juggle of work with school drop offs and the business of family life. It is important to focus on the results and outputs from staff rather than the routine of your employee. Their productivity will benefit if they’re able to get the job done at a time that works best for them. Offering this degree of flexibility also goes a long way to strengthening their sense of belonging and commitment to their employer over the longer term.

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2. Check-in with staff regularly– Everyone’s home life is different, and some parents in your organisation might experience stress from balancing work and children. Frequent communication can be a great help, and an open workplace culture leads to higher productivity as people tend to feel supported. Research by MetLife found that 67% worry about their children’s health, often the first priority to parents. Being sympathetic and understanding will go a long way to making those feeling more anxious, for example, first time mothers returning to work after maternity leave, or helping young children settle in a new nursery or school. By understanding their concerns or milestones of their children at any given time can go a long way.

3. Consider onsite childcare – A sure way to ease parents worries at work is offering onsite childcare, especially for those parents who prefer to work at the office. Onsite care can reassure parents. But, if you’re unable to provide such a resource, another great resource is compiling a referral network of childcare around your place of work. This more likely to encourage employees back into the office. Also helping to connect other parents within the organisation can be a very practical network for them to lean on one another.

4. Support their overall well-being and re-evaluate HR policies: As working life changes, we are witnessing a shift in what employees want from their employers. A more holistic approach to benefits is likely to start to sit alongside the more traditional benefits with options such as a ‘sick day’ for a sick child or resources in creating routines and maintaining work-life balance proving popular. Also establishing a shared parental leave policy that benefit both parents. Employers who support employees in and out of the workplace can help ensure both will thrive today and, in the years, to come.

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